RED MIRROR – A Militant Inquiry On Technology

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Introduction
 
The modern world is changing rapidly. The robots are coming and it is not only the remaining factory workers that may disappear: the jobs of doctors, cashiers and teachers are potentially at risk. At the same time as sharing economies are born, companies like Spotify and Netflix privatize the free culture created by file sharing. While the medical innovation moves forward at a pace that makes the discussion of the possibility of human immortality more plausible then ever before, millions die of curable diseases. Catastrophes amass as societal development accelerates. As The Accelerationist Manifesto states: “In contrast to these ever-accelerating catastrophes, today’s politics is beset by an inability to generate the new ideas and modes of organization necessary to transform our societies to confront and resolve the coming annihilations. While crisis gathers force and speed, politics withers and retreats. In this paralysis of the political imaginary, the future has been cancelled.”. It is thus up to us to create – or save – this future.
 
This is the beginning of a kind of militant inquiry that we aim to run as a self-organized study group both on- and offline. Together we want to do things like read books, articles, sci-fi, watch YouTube clips, analyze statistics or whatever interests us. We want to find new points of view and lines of questioning and do away with the old. We want to create a space to connect programmers, migrants, communists, academics, transhumanists, discarded superfluous workers, cyborgs, factory workers, moms, union organizers and everyone else who doesn’t only need to but who also must create a new world before this one turns to shit.
 
In this text we put forward our own issues as a basis for future discussion. Comment our text, share your knowledge, study on your own, invite us, join the our study group and last but not least – fight! You have nothing to lose but your electronic chains.
 
Post-Fordism and Political Visions
 
The epoch we live in is post-fordist and has succeeded the previous fordist era. Fordism was a society built upon the conveyor belt of the automobile industry, which became the model for hospitals, schools and the rest of industry. Fordism was built around relatively high wages and the incorporation of the domestic, national working class into capitalism, the expansion of the welfare state, the establishment of the nuclear family and the racist exclusion of minorities (Finns in Sweden, black people in the USA). The vision of socialism created by the labour movement of the fordist era corresponded the society that created it: progressivism, democratic management of the means of production and an end to wastefulness. Today, in a post-fordist society these visions have faded by the way of on the one hand the triumph of neoliberalism, and on the other hand by way of the disappearance of fordist factories and modes of production. Therefore we have to ask the same question as Motarbetaren does in “Sisyfos klasskamp”(Sisyfos’ class stuggle): “What proletarian believes that socialism and communism could be about ruling over McDonalds or Burger King? Who believes in the democratic management of a call center?”
 
So – we need a new vision. Our question is, can we create this new vision by way of, for example, automation and big data? Is communism feasible in the form of a digitalized planned or sharing economy or would it be something different all together? Can we use Uber, AirBnB, the algorithms of Amazon, Wal-Marts digitalized logistics etc, as models for new possibilities in a global classless society? What do we have to hack? How do we tear specific capitalist technologies from their capitalist roots? Is it even possible? How can we create digital systems to serve the people instead of profit?
 
Gender Orders, Automation and Acceleration.
 
Instagram filters, blue or pink children’s clothes, BBQ grills, birth control pills, condoms, gender reassignment surgery and lipsticks are all examples of how the gender order is related to technology. Without these technologies it is difficult to see what gender would look like today. But what technologies are subversive or emancipatory and which ones chain us to the gender order?
 
Fordism was built upon a specific type of working class masculinity, in Sweden foremost in the form of the “model worker” (den skötsamme arbetaren). The male worker did the factory work, whereas his wife did the domestic work (obviously things are more complicated then this, but generally this an adequate description of the gendered division of labour). During the post-fordist era this division has gradually been erased, a great deal due to successful feminist struggles, but at the same time the disappearance of traditional male jobs has led to a “fear of falling”, i.e. the development of reactionary tendencies in order to maintain privileges and a relative position of power. At the same time more than just classic industrial work is at risk of being automated. Self-service-checkouts and robots to take care of the elderly are two examples of how also feminized jobs could vanish. Could this perhaps lead to development dissimilar to the masculine reactionary “fear of falling”?
 
Global Perspectives

Automation is part of a global trend. In China robots are expected to take over tens of thousand of jobs over the next couple of years. This will potentially create huge changes for the global capitalist structures where the countries of the global south maintain a form of fordist production (with parallel political movements and developments) and ship their commodities to the global north. At the same time economic growth is shrinking in the global north, presumably because of the amount of dead labour that has taken over production. This is in turn a major reason behind the decreasing state socialist ambitions of Social Democratic movements: with shrinking economic growth comes shrinking room for reform.
Global migration is also shaped by technology, from the self organized text messaging chains migrants use to share information on possible routes and Frontex’ boats and guns, to the destruction of local job markets or the war machines that force people to move. Kurds send pictures and film clips from the whole world to Afrin and Rojava and back. Creating direct connections between people and over borders is possible in way unimaginable for previous generations. The world is becoming ever more connected and interwoven at the same time as barbed wire fences and walls are being erected. Where are the holes in the fences? How can we build a new internationalism in theory and in practice from our small city of Lund to the rest of the world. In what way do the technologies we use affect our efforts?
Environmental destruction is a process linked to migration in which our world is laid to waste in varying paces from location to location that in turn drives migration, for example due to drought. The environment has been changed into a technical issue instead of a social one, a question of the amount of cans individuals choose to recycle. Yet the human race is not separate from nature (or technology for that matter). There is no “natural state of things” to preserve, but there is a world being exploited by capitalism. With the old slogan “Think globally – act locally” in mind we need to in a concrete manner identify where and why this exploitation and destruction occurs at the same time as we gain a scientific analysis and a social understanding for environmental struggle and ecology.
 
Struggle and Revolution

Struggle, just as any human relation always contains material and therefore also technological relations. We need to learn from the insurrections of the last few years. Tunisia, Greece, Syria and Egypt are all situations that state and capital tried to cope with in different ways: from the EU’s austerity measures that went up against a SYRIZA completely lacking in political tools in the era of post-fordism, to the militarisation of the Syrian rebellion which led to strict hierarchies, masculinization and islamization of the resistance (all these tendencies are interwoven). In Egypt the protesters won politically against the military at the same time as they burned down around a hundred police stations and thereby robbed the pigs of their bases. After the protesters initial victories the rebellion was beaten in the end in different stages by the ballot boxes, conservative islamists and the military. In Tunisia “democracy” was the counter-revolution and today the Tunisian politicians are on their hands and knees begging for a bit of peace and quiet after the austerity politics the IMF has forced upon the country. If only the tourists could come back the nation (e.i the national capitalism) might rise like the phoenix from the ashes! So, counter-revolution has many faces, all of them interwoven binary, materially, technologically and socially with each other.
Logistics are central in the capitalism of today. Without a global network of harbours, ships, electricity, trucks, computer systems, paved roads and airplanes capitalism would collapse. “Globalisation” is really just these things interwoven with a politically neoliberal push for deregulation in order to maximize profits. Water is shipped from Austria to Sweden to be sold in grocery stores, oil is pumped in the Middle East to be used at a gas station in Lomma, mass quantities of plastic garbage is produced in China in order be shipped to us for a small price, Volvo’s factories are spread out all over Europe where each factory and subcontractor specializes on one small step of production. This is the weak link of modern capitalism:
block one of these nodes and everything falls like a house of cards. But where are theses nodes and what is done there? What happens if we block them for an hour? Twelve hours? Ten days? Are logistical blockades, as a Danish comrade remarked, just possible as an activist version of a short strike in which you can strike at a particular company, branch or region while leaving the system itself unharmed?
How can we wage revolutionary struggle today when military drones and aircraft are dominant forces in war? We think that we need to study insurrection as a global, social and political struggle instead of simply a military struggle. This due to the hierarchization that war entails which quickly robs insurrection of it’s social character and leads it back into statehood. How can the revolution survive if Sweden’s food supply only lasts a week (since Swedish capitalism depends on food imports)? Could we coordinate a revolutionary uprising through Twitter without formal organizing? What do we do when they shut off the electrical grid, or when the workers at the nuclear power plants don’t want to go to work, or when they roll tanks into the cities? What lessons can we learn from the revolutionary wars of 1917 or 1936 and what is obsolete? These are questions that concern organization, what knowledge we need to learn and which social categories we need to act together with before the revolution comes. 
The development in Rojava and the neighboring territories might be the most important place to study. As a comrade who had visited Rojava told us: “The Kurds said that they would have loved to call the international left instead of the USA for help [when Daesh/IS attacked] but the international left probably didn’t have an air force.”
These are just a few of all of the questions we’re asking ourselves. We hope you will join our collective effort to understand our digital, technological world and also work to change it with us!
Organising Autonomously/Autonom Organisering, Spring of 2018
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